On Nov. 22, there will be many attempts to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of former U.S. president John F. Kennedy. This poignant effort created out of The Martin Agency and Tool for the JFK Presidential Library hopes to shift the focus from the the way Mr. Kennedy died, to the way he lives on.
"An Idea Lives On" is an interactive film by The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., in collaboration with production company Tool of North America, which is collecting the stories of the people and places who in some way embody Mr. Kennedy. The stories include those of two young teens named after the President, President Obama's inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, who expresses a connection to Mr. Kennedy and talk show host Conan O'Brien who talks about the nation's first Irish-Catholic president.
Places like the boulevards, plazas and schools bearing Mr. Kennedy's name are also featured in the film, which can be watched in a linear way, or stopped and explored like a website. There's also a 10-minute primer on Mr. Kennedy's presidency, narrated by Martin Sheen. Each segment has a unique URL, so it can be shared.
The idea was birthed right after last year's project, "Clouds Over Cuba," was wrapped, according to Brian Williams, creative director at The Martin Agency. All the work the Library has done with the agency has been in conjunction with significant anniversaries, such as the award-winning "We Choose The Moon," which recreated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing, and the Emmy-winning "Cuba," which marked the anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Someone from the library had suggested making a list of everything in the world that was named after the late President. That in itself didn't make for a good story, so the Martin team decided to take that idea and turn it into something with a narrative structure.
"The clients were looking forward to the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death with a sense of wistfulness, because they knew it would be a culmination of all those anniversaries," said Mr. Williams. "They wanted to do something fitting of Kennedy's egalitarian and populist attitude."
That "populist" attitude is demonstrated by the project's inclusive nature: It calls on viewers to tell the Library how the ideals and legacy of President Kennedy have influenced them, via tweets, video, audio, images or prose. If chosen by curators at the Library, those stories will be incorporated into the live interactive film -- with a twist. You will be given a special link to view the film so you can share it with family and friends. When you click the link, your contribution will appear first -- no forwarding required.
"An Idea Lives On" is the latest from the ever-innovative Presidential Library, which over the past three years has delighted Kennedy fans with beautiful, immersive digital projects, all done in collaboration with Martin Agency, and director Ben Tricklebank, who directed the first installment, "Moon," out of Domani Studios before joining Tool, which did the last two projects. Tom McNaught, Executive Director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, said that the reason this presidential library's campaigns seem to be head and shoulders above those of others U.S. presidents is that "John F. Kennedy himself was so creative and inspiring and his legacy in turn inspires those of us who work here." He also added that being in Boston means the library is always exposed to a "high-energy, media savvy population of university and college students" that keep its staff on its toes trying to find new ways to grab their attention.